WASHINGTON – The Maricopa County individual who tested positive for novel coronavirus has been released from quarantine after receiving multiple negative tests for the virus, the Maricopa County Public Health Department said in a statement Friday.
People in contact with the unidentified individual were also cleared after a 14-day monitoring period for the virus, now officially named COVID-19.
“There is no risk of COVID-19 to the community from this individual and we encourage his friends, family and the community to support him as he transitions back to his everyday activities,” said the statement from Maricopa County Public Health.
Arizona was one of a handful of states to record a confirmed case of the disease since it was first reported earlier this year. But the number of U.S. cases jumped to 53 when 36 infected passengers who had been aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan were released and sent home.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a conference call Friday that in addition to the cruise ship passengers, hundreds of U.S. citizens have been evacuated by the federal government from China in recent weeks.
The CDC is now placing infected people in the U.S. in two categories: Those infected via travel-related activity or person-to-person contact, and those who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, and the Diamond Princess.
As of Monday, two people had have contracted the virus from person-to-person contact in the U.S. while 12 had contracted it while traveling. Three more cases were among the group evacuated from Wuhan and 36 people in the U.S. were among more than 600 confirmed cases on the Diamond Princess.
There are also several severely ill Americans hospitalized in Japan, Messonnier said Friday.
Worldwide, there have been more than 79,000 confirmed cases and 2,600 deaths due to the virus, the vast majority of which were in mainland China, according to the World Health Organization. At least 30 countries have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The CDC is screening international arrivals at U.S. airports and has issued travel warnings for several countries – it recommends U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, it advises older passengers and those with chronic conditions to consider postponing travel to Japan and South Korea and it suggests precautions when traveling to Italy, Iran and Hong Kong.
There is no vaccine for the virus yet, health officials say, and the CDC warns it is transmitted by person-to-person contact.
“We’re not seeing spread here in the United States yet, but it is possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen,” Messonnier said.
The WHO urged the public, and public health officials, to combat harmful stereotyping associated with virus by sharing recovery stories, portraying different ethnic groups in learning materials and contacting social influencers to ask for their help.
“Since the emergence of COVID-19, we have seen instances of public stigmatization among specific populations and the rise of harmful stereotypes,” the report said. “Stigmatization could potentially contribute to more severe health problems, ongoing transmission and difficulties controlling infectious diseases during an epidemic.”
The Maricopa County person who tested positive for the virus has ties to the Arizona State University, where an ASU spokesperson said in a statement that the individual is free to reintegrate into the university community, while emphasizing the university’s wish to respect the person’s privacy.
“ASU values and take pride in our commitment to inclusivity and respect for every individual of our community,” the university spokesperson said. “During times like these, we expect our community to be supportive, empathic and respectful.”